The King’s Speech: Movingvoice at the Movies

If you haven’t seen the King’s Speech, please do. It’s a historical drama about England’s King George VI, known to his family as Bertie, whose terrible stutter–in an age of radio addresses to the nation–threatened to undermine his confidence and his reign. He seeks help from Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist who’d learned his craft treating soldiers traumatized on their return from World War I.

Working with Logue, Bertie must accept that “fixing” his stammer is more than a matter of mechanics. Babies, Logue tells him, are not born with stammers, and as the story unfolds, Bertie, a man with few if any intimate connections, voices some deeply wounding experiences from his childhood. The movie climaxes with the speech Bertie must deliver to his people over the radio as England enters the war with Hitler’s Germany. He must inspire courage and optimism during a fearful moment in history.

In an interview, the actor Colin Firth, who plays Bertie, says:

“These themes are universal. I think it’s about people trying to reach each other. It’s a heightened version of that. Everybody has limitations on their ability to communicate. Everyone has fears that they won’t communicate successfully. Anybody who has to speak publicly can identify with this moment. For them it will be the anxiety dream they had the night before.

I think people do have a problem with intimacy. There’s a level on which we all are alone no matter how intimate we are with our family. You can’t actually really get inside someone else and take out their pain. You wish you could. So, I think it is a story about one person trying to reach another person through so many barriers. Setting it in the 30s in the royal family heightens some things that we are all familiar with.”

Lionel Logue provides a healing relationship in which Bertie, the King, can shift some deeply held beliefs about himself. This is the heart of Movingvoice: to guide and support another human being in giving voice to their unique expression!

Movingvoice focuses on overcoming obstacles to a full, free voice. In many cases, the obstacles or blocks to the voice are not as evident as a severe stammer. For many of us, we don’t actually know what’s in the way of speaking our truth or singing in front of people, but we do feel the terror! In one sense, it’s more straight forward if there is an actual problem to address such as a tremor.

I work with the body as the instrument for expression. You don’t need to know what the problem is. The body and voice together reveal what’s in the way of speaking up or singing out. In Bertie’s case, he had no choice but to face his demons so that he could lead his Nation. For many of us, we have the choice to claim our power and our voice. So, make that choice and  take a baby step toward bringing more of your voice into the world!

Everything Is Going To Be Just Fine

Do you feel terrified to perform? I do! … The pressure takes your breath away…your heart pounds, palms sweat, hands or legs shake… It gets in the way of sharing your gifts, doesn’t it?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share a few tips that I use when I perform.

Take some time by yourself to have a ‘check-in’ before you perform. Here’s how:

Close your eyes and say hello (out loud or silently) to the part of yourself that is scared to death.   For example, you might say, “Kind of scary, huh?”

Then, listen for an answer.  “I’M TERRIFIED!!! GET ME OUT OF HERE! I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS! THIS IS A REALLY BAD IDEA!!!”

You’ll be surprised!  Often, you really do get a response when you take the time to do a check-in, and really listen for that voice or voices inside.

Lovingly respond to the scared part:  “I know it sounds crazy to you, but we can do this! It’s normal to feel scared. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere. Right here, right now, we’re doing just fine.”

Our fear comes from our nervous system remembering experiences in our past when we felt isolated and frightened, with no help at hand.  These are potent memories that can get triggered by performance situations.   Our bodies remember what it felt like to be alone and scared.  So, we have to work extra hard to prove that actually in this moment… EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE JUST FINE.

One of the most helpful aspects of doing this work with yourself, is that you align yourself with the more confident adult part of yourself, rather than the often younger, scared part of yourself.  As odd as it may sound, it’s natural to have different aspects of ourselves that take charge at different times.

When we perform, we want our confident Self to be in charge.  BUT you’ll feel much better if you stay connected to the scared part, rather than hating it and wanting to wring its neck.  Try it!  Take time for a check-in to acknowledge that terrified part of yourself,  and you’ll be on your way to a stronger, more grounded performance!

HAVE QUESTIONS FOR MOVINGVOICE? Leave a comment to hear my thoughts!